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Wondering what to eat before a dirt bike race? What’s a good motocross diet? Here are some tips for off road racing nutrition and hydration.

what to eat before a dirt bike race

Hi! My name is Chantal Steele, and I’m a personal trainer and wife to a dirt bike addict. 🙂

In recent years, my husband @jsteele_216, along with is dad and brother, have gotten increasingly serious about their dirt bike racing.

They have been following both the local OMRA (Oregon Motorcycle Riders Association) series, as well as the National Hare and Hound series. This means that they have been doing up to two races per month throughout each season on various terrains.

They also ride every weekend to practice – it’s a lot!

To be honest, I never thought I’d be writing a post about off-road racing nutrition.

Before marrying my husband, I had ZERO exposure to the world of enduro/motocross/dirt bike culture of any kind. So if I sound like a total noob when talking about the actual community, please excuse my lingo…lol.

But now, even my daughter is into racing! She’s even won 2nd and 3rd place at her last two events. 🙂

food for motorcross and enduro racing

I decided to write this post because recently I have been getting a lot of questions from family about off-road racing nutrition and hydration. Literally every race, someone asks me what I think they should eat! 

What is a good motocross diet? Where can I find enduro diet plans? 

And in general, what should I eat before a dirt bike race?

Although I am not a rider myself, I think I can help! That is, if you’re serious about your nutrition and racing!

Since I’m a personal trainer busy working on a nutrition coaching certification, I figure that helping clueless amateur riders could benefit from a little direction on the matter.

Try this recipe: Easy Vegan Carrot Muffins (No Added Sugar!)

I understand that dirt bike racing is NOT the same as other sports events (like a marathon). But I do know that it can take a similar toll on the body and requires a ton of training and energy just like anything else.

When it comes down to it, the recommended nutrition for a long run is actually similar to what I’d recommend for this type of sporting event.

Learning What To Eat Before A Dirt Bike Race

As a personal trainer, I am required to continuously learn about exercise and nutrition. I learned a lot of what I’m going to share with you by reading Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition Guidebook (highly recommended for athletes of any kind) and from my Nutrition Coaching Certification course from the National Academy of Sports Medicine.

best motocross diet plans

Anyway, as my husband has become increasingly into off-road racing, he has been asking me to give him exercises and diet recommendations to help him improve his lap times.

When I asked him what he ate for breakfast before the last Hare & Hound event, he said simply, “Eggs and bacon.” *Facepalm*

And he wonders why he is so fatigued after the first hour and a half!

I figure that unless you’re a professional rider with a personal trainer or dietician of your own, you are probably just as clueless as my husband. So listen up to these nutrition tips for dirt bike riders.

Pre-Race Nutrition For Off-Road Racing Is Critical

I know a lot of young guys who are still living off of energy drinks and protein shakes. (It is, after all part of the stereotypical off-road culture. Monster, anyone?)

My husband isn’t necessarily old (29!) but he’s definitely not young enough to be skimping on nutrition anymore. 

Plus, the guys who are seriously killing it don’t take their nutrition so lightly. If you watch any interviews or documentaries about professional riders, they will talk all about nutrition and fitness training!

It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for food for motocross, an enduro diet, or just a little of everything. All the practice in the world won’t matter when you’re running on empty (and I don’t mean gas).

That being said, remember that I am not a doctor or registered dietician! But I still think I can help you if you’re looking for advice on what to eat before a dirt bike race.

nutrition tips for dirt bike riders

What should I eat 2 hours before a race?

The worst thing you can do is NOT eat before your race. Hopefully you also know not to eat within about a half hour of your race. (It’s kinda like eating before swimming. I’d hate for you to puke in your helmet.) But timing does count!

Here are two quick ideas of what to eat for the biggest impact:

  • 1-2 pieces of whole wheat bread with peanut butter
  • Old fashioned or rolled oats with nuts or nut butter

Read on to see why I chose these things!

What should I eat the day before a dirt bike race?

Here’s what you didn’t know: you can start carb-loading a few days before your race to store energy!

Yep, carbs are a big deal before any sports event.

And while protein and fats are important, carbs are going to be the first thing your body uses up. This short-term energy source is a must-have!

So eat some pasta, bread, cereal, fruit, and other carb sources starting a day or two before the big race. 

What should I eat right before a big race?

Whether you’re racing motocross or enduro, any race that lasts more than an hour will use up most of your short-term energy stores.

The foods that are eaten as carbs and sugars will get stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen if not used up immediately as glucose. The glucose can be used for energy quickly.

motocross diet tips

Translation: The carbs and sugars you ate last will get used first. 

Your body does, however, need a few minutes to start digesting, so it is suggested that you eat at least 30 minutes before your race. 

If you want to get really technical about how these carbs get used and why you should make sure to have some before a dirt bike race, read this article about metabolism

Complex Versus Simple Carbs

There are simple and complex carbs – two different things. Simple carbs/starches are things like refined sugar and white rice – they have been stripped of some of their natural properties. 

This makes them easier to digest and energy from these gets used up faster.

Complex carbs haven’t been stripped down and are digested more slowly. That means that their potential energy is released over a longer period of time. They are still easier to tap into for energy than fats or proteins, but they are distributed a bit differently. But overall, they are almost always the healthier choice. 

Related Reading: Beginner List Of Good Fats To Eat

Why is this important?

If you eat something sugary and refined, it will be the first thing to get burned as energy, but it also won’t last. 

If you eat a complex carb, it has the ability to deliver energy for a longer period of time. (Here is a list of simple and complex carbs.)

Logically, it would be best to consume BOTH! 

After your body uses up it’s readily-available carbohydrates, it will start to tap into other sources of energy. 

After carbs, your body will start to tap into stored fat for energy.

There are, however, several types of fats and they are digested differently. (This post will help you learn about the good fats.)

This means that if you ate avocado, olive oil, or another healthy fat, and it was stored in your system, your body will start to use it next. However, fat stores are a bit harder for the body to tap into. 

This process wont begin until all ATPs (energy) is used up from carbs first. 

As a last resort, your body will tap into protein. That includes muscles and is unlikely to happen for you in this situation.

That’s because your body only starts to do this after the other energy sources are gone. (Since most dirt bike races are 2 hours or less, this will only apply to multi-day or all-day events.)

So let’s get back to more specifics on what to eat before a dirt bike race

motocross diet tips

Examples of What To Eat Before A Dirt Bike Race:

  • Apple & peanut butter
  • Whole wheat pasta with a small amount of meat
  • Bagel
  • Banana & peanut butter
  • Oatmeal with berries
  • Sweet potatoes 
  • Toast
  • Other easily and quickly digested carbs!

I hope that this information and tips about what to eat before a dirt bike race helps serious athletes and riders out there! With this info, you’ll be able to give yourself a better chance of powering through your next race without extreme fatigue or muscle failure. 

If you want to learn more, I’d encourage you to read more about nutrition with Nancy Clark’s Sports Nutrition guidebook. It’s a wealth of information for active people of all types!

Have any more tips on what to eat to eat before a dirt bike race or nutrition and training for motocross or enduro? Tell me about them below!

-Chantal